Gatchalian backs gov’t plan to build Covid-19 vaccination sites in schools, insists more schools should hold in-person classes

Re-electionist Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said he supports the government’s plan to establish Covid-19 vaccination sites in schools as this would help increase the vaccination coverage among minors and open more schools for face-to-face classes.

Gatchalian, who is seeking a fresh six year term in the Senate, hailed the government’s move after Presidential Adviser for Covid-19 Response Secretary Vince Dizon reported that National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. already gave instructions to make COVID-19 vaccines available in all schools.

According to Dizon, there are 10 million doses in stock for children aged 5 to 11. He also said that accelerating pediatric vaccination is part of the government’s Last Mile Challenge in the COVID-19 inoculation program.

As of April 17, officials said only more than 2.6 million or 18.59 percent of children aged 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the 12-17 age group, more than 9.9 million or 86.51 percent have at least one dose.

The Department of Education (DepEd) also reported that there are 26,344 schools conducting face-to-face classes—25,668 or 56.89 percent of public schools and 676 or 5.47 percent of private schools.

More than 5.9 million public school learners are attending in-person classes, while there are 226,991 learners participating from private schools.

“Mahalagang mapaigting natin ang pakikilahok ng ating mga paaralan sa pagbabakuna ng mga kabataan laban sa COVID-19 (It’s very important to increase the participation of schools in vaccinating our youth against Covid-19),” said Gatchalian.

“Kung mababakunahan natin ang mas maraming kabataan, makakapagbukas pa tayo ng mas maraming mga paaralan para sa face-to-face classes (If more young people are inoculated, more schools would be able to hold face-to-face classes),” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture further said.

Gatchalian reiterated that the prolonged lack of in-person classes will result in both economic and education scarring.

Citing a study of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the senator said the country is losing around P22-trillion for two years of face-to-face closure.